A message to the faculty, staff, and students of Virginia’s Community Colleges from State Board Chair, Dr. Susan T. Gooden:
Racism. COVID-19. These are two major pandemics that, despite our best yearnings, cannot be wished away. In fact, we’re seeing the blatant intersection of the two. African-Americans are disproportionately dying from COVID-19, assuming higher levels of risk in front line or near front line positions to enable social distancing of the privileged, all while also having limited access to quality health care. Then, to see the life of George Floyd literally ended by the police over a counterfeit $20 bill only adds a down-pouring rain of insult to the ongoing heavy rains of injury.
Virginia’s Community Colleges are widely recognized for our commitment to social equity in our teaching and service. It has been a hallmark of our mission since our doors first opened more than 50 years ago. As its State Board Chair, it is important that I simultaneously support our employees, students, faculty, and staff, while also aggressively contributing to the solution. We are not bystanders to social injustice. Like COVID-19, institutional racism does not take time off. But, also like COVID-19, we can aggressively work together to assure its demise.